Having recorded several notable achievements over the past year, the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) intends to remain robust and buoyant in 2023.
In 2022, the SLHTA made some very ground-breaking and noteworthy achievements, including supporting policy that led to the launch of the Community Tourism Agency (CTA), and collaborating with Citizens for Peace and Prosperity and other key stakeholders on matters relating to crime and security.
“The SLHTA is very pleased with the level of engagement with the Ministry of Tourism and the St. Lucia Tourism Authority on a wide range of crucial discussions on issues directly affecting our tourism industry. Together we worked assiduously on the draft Tourism Development Bill and matters relating to the sector’s reopening. Additionally, there was the introduction of Kabawe Krawl, deliberations on the Collection de Pépites and the launch of the Inaugural Saint Lucia Tourism Awards, The Gimies. These initiatives are a testament to what can be achieved when we work together,” said Senator Noorani Azeez, SLHTA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
“Over the past year,” Senator Azeez said, “the SLHTA also continued its push for the human resource development of its members, and created opportunities for at-risk and unemployed youth by introducing them to careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in the tourism industry. November 2022 was a historic month for the SLHTA: for the first time in its history, the Association received a government grant to expand its On-The-Job Training programme. Through the grant, one hundred young Saint Lucians will receive invaluable training at properties around the island!”
“The SLHTA extends appreciation to all stakeholders with whom we were able to collaborate over the past year as we pushed through the post-pandemic recovery,” Azeez stated. “We’re very pleased to have worked with communities and community-based organizations to unlock the benefits of tourism for our people in a philanthropic and developmental way.”
In December, for example, the SLHTA, through its Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), disbursed grants and donations totalling over EC$250,000.00 to various organisations in Saint Lucia. The funds will be used to finance initiatives aimed at creating opportunities for young people and assisting the less fortunate in society with EC$90,000 worth of food vouchers.
Azeez said that the SLHTA looks forward to strengthening these relationships in the new year through the establishment of a much stronger presence at the community level. The Association is also aiming to increase its membership support services, including support for small businesses seeking entrance into the important tourism industry from the blue and orange economic sectors.
“We also anticipate an increase in membership in the new year as we re-energize our advocacy on better waste management practices on land and coastal areas, violent crimes reduction, human capital development, tourism product development and stronger linkages with Saint Lucian Manufacturers,” the CEO said. “We’ll also be looking at packaging some of our best practices and showcasing them regionally, so that other destinations can learn from our operational model of engagement, inclusivity, and collaboration.”
Meanwhile, Paul Collymore, President of the SLHTA, is also upbeat about the SLHTA’s achievements over the past year and optimistic about its plans for 2023. According to Collymore, the tourism industry will need all hands on deck in the new year in order to remain viable and successful.
“What we’ve noticed over the years is that, especially when we’re faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, our spirit of collaboration is indomitable,” Collymore said. “Therefore, in order to remain consistently successful, we need to keep those bonds of collaboration strong, as we are only stronger together.”
The President noted that the performance of the tourism sector in 2022 exceeded expectations. He credits the hard work and dedication of those involved in the sector for this performance, adding that such efforts deserve recognition.
“We’re very pleased that we have overshot our projections by exceptional numbers,” said Collymore. “While most of this growth thus far has been led by stay-over arrivals, we are nonetheless happy that this sector has performed admirably and look forward to keenly anticipated increases in cruise and yachting arrivals. Therefore, we thank all stakeholders whose efforts have led to these remarkable achievements and encourage them to continue this trend. In the new year, we hope to celebrate these achievements through our national tourism awards ceremony. On behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of the SLHTA, I wish all citizens a happy and prosperous 2023!”